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Reporter Jim Gray Paid By LeBron Entity, Not ESPN
CNBC.com | July 09, 2010 | 04:25 PM EDT

(Ed. Note, July 12, 2010: It was originally reported by CNBC and later by Bloomberg that Jim Gray would be reimbursed for his expenses and receive an additional payment for his work on ESPN's LeBron James special last Thursday night. Now, CNBC is being told by its primary source and by Gray that the two payments are one and the same and he is only being compensated for his expenses).

As Jim Gray has told it, it was his idea to make LeBron James' free agent plan an hour special. He took the idea to James' marketing agent Maverick Carter of LRMR, who then worked with William Morris Endeavor to put the package together in front of ESPN executives.

ESPN didn't play down one part of the business arrangement of the deal — that Gray, the former ESPN and NBC reporter who is now working on a freelance basis, was James' preferred interviewer.

But the network didn’t say, and now says it didn't know, that Gray's travel and payment for "The Decision" show was being paid by the entity set up by Team LeBron and not by ESPN, as CNBC has learned.

“We aren’t privy to Gray’s arrangement,” said ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys. “He came as part of the package. We accepted Jim knowing that we would have extensive time for our people to interview LeBron, which was the bulk of the show.”

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